With her herd of alpacas and a B&B to run, Beverley Baker has been packing a busy schedule for more than 10 years.
Beverley’s Summerhill Farm B&B is situated on 4ha at Main Ridge. In 2007 the search began to find animals that would keep the grass down and were suitable for a small property. Enter the alpacas, and Summalon Alpaca Stud came into being.
Beverley, who operates the stud with her daughter, Fleur, says she was attracted to these animals for their endearing nature and protective instincts. Alpacas are kind to the environment as their padded hooves don’t compact the soil as hard-hoofed animals do, Beverley explains. “They are lovely to work with and relatively low-maintenance. They are pretty much disease-free, need to be shorn once a year, have their toenails trimmed and a few vaccinations. They are a delight to have around. The B&B guests find them entertaining and quite a novelty, as their curious nature often tempts them to approach in the hope of a few treats.”
However, Beverley says you do need to treat them with some respect. “They can and do kick and it hurts, but this is usually because they are stressed or feel threatened. The same goes for spitting - not a pleasant experience, but at least it doesn’t hurt and is mainly amongst themselves. Just keep out of the way and you’ll be fine.”
Beverley’s alpacas are the Huacaya breed - “the ones that look like sheep with long necks”. Alpaca fleece is soft and lustrous and makes beautiful and stylish garments that are light to wear and very warm. Beverley supplies the fleece and yarn you’ll find at the Little Alpaca shop in Flinders that is owned by her daughter, Trudy.
One very useful trait that alpacas have is their instinct to protect the herd from predators. Farmers use them to prevent fox attacks on their chickens and new-born lambs. They will chase intruders from the paddock and give a warning cry that Beverley describes as a high-pitched shriek.
So who is Beverley’s favourite? At the moment it’s Alfie, one of last year’s cria (baby alpaca). “I think he is a good one, but we will soon know as he will be shown in the junior class at Berwick Show. We usually take a few of the best to Berwick and Red Hill shows. It’s good to see how our animals compare to those of other breeders.”
Summalon Alpacas is a registered commercial stud, and much as Beverley loves her alpacas she can’t keep them all, so there are usually a few for sale. Beverley can be contacted on 5989 6077.